Our office has been busy these past few months either attending or chairing Annual General Meetings or Special Owners Meetings. What is different this year is that many of these condominium corporations introduced electronic voting to their communities to do their elections and by-law votes and were successful in getting their bylaws confirmed and quorum achieved well in advance of the meeting date. In most cases, owners did not complete proxies and those that did (very few if any) had one mistake after another- rendering them invalid.
As more and more condominium corporations are starting to move towards electronic voting, it becomes evident that removing all the issues involving proxies results in a more fair and democratic process for owners.
Remember, condominium corporations have been using the old proxy method for over 50 years. As David Crawford recently noted in his article in CondoBusiness, it is time to “reduce the possibility of voting fraud and strengthen the voices of owners” with his proposal to amend the Condominium Act to “remove all mention of proxies and state that all votes at owner meetings must be cast by the owner- either at the meeting or in advance.”
Electronic voting does require that managers learn a new process, with slightly different procedures for sending out notice packages, handling the registration desk and voting at the meeting. Proxies no longer need to be included in notice packages and no proxy instructions needed!
Of course, like any new process, it takes time to learn and owners will also need to be informed as to how electronic voting works. The following 7 tips from CondoVoter may be helpful to managers who are starting to use this process:
- Electronic Voting has an opening and closing time for the vote. Usually the close is at noon the day of the meeting. This is the time that you will get the final electronic report.
- Ensure that you notify CondoVoter ahead of the closing of the vote as to whether there are any owners in arrears. The owners are not entitled to vote so their votes must be removed.
- If there are votes for separate items such as by-laws, an owner-occupant director position or other director positions, these items will now be part of your registration list so you know whether or not to give an owner a paper ballot or not.
- Quorum only electronic votes (yes- owners can vote quorum only) still entitles that owner to attend the meeting, if they choose to vote on any item. This results in quorum being achieved very easily.
- Owners who vote for one item and not another electronically can still come to the meeting to vote on the other items they didn’t vote for.
- Remember, if an owner votes for a director or any other issues such as a bylaw, that vote is final. The process is similar to filling out a paper ballot and depositing the ballot into the ballot box. If owners intend to come to the meeting they should vote quorum only or just attend the meeting in person.
- Meetings can be adjourned if a by-law vote does not go forward and the electronic vote on the by-laws can be extended to a meeting to be called at a later date.
It is also important to be aware that “electronic voting” is specifically referred to in the Condominium Act and therefore permitted. Neither “electronic balloting”, the meaning of which is not clear, nor “electronic proxies” are even referred to in the Condominium Act, which raises a legitimate question as to whether either is permitted.
CondoVoter offers complimentary training sessions for managers, directors and lawyers on electronic voting. For more information or to arrange a training session email firstname.lastname@example.org